Two muscle men blowing up aliens is better than one. Thus, two friends tapping away at a controller on the same couch is comparatively more fun than sitting in the darkness alone.
No game encapsulates this feeling more than the Contra franchise for me. The NES original was a mainstay in my family’s living room, where I would team up with my dad and brother on numerous occasions. Who knew that two steroid-filled, topless men could bring families so close together?
Thankfully, the series -- along with cooperative gameplay -- is back as publisher Konami has released Contra Rebirth. Below are my initial impressions to the first hour with the title.
0:00: Creating my save file right now. Whoa, game starts with animated cut scenes and voice acting. The writing is laughable bad. Also, Bill Rizer appears to have forgotten whom he is, but trusts some random little robot for no apparent reason. OK...
0:01: Title screen features badly remixed music from original. Also, no Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection for 2-player gaming. Why did my brother have to get married and have a family? I need him around for things like this.
0:03: There is an Easy difficulty setting for those that shake a bit when thinking about playing a Contra game.
0:04: More cut scenes. “Chief Salamander’s Neo-Salamander Army travels back to 1973 AD to invade Earth.” Sounds like a smart move to me. Uh oh, communications with Lance Bean are lost.
0:05: Players can choose between Bill Rizer and Yagyu. I am going to play with the timeless Mr. Rizer and his blue skintight pants.
0:06: After choosing Bill, he says, “Let’s party!” Talk about overly cheesy.
0:07: Finally into the game and jumping from the classic helicopter. Spreadshot immediately available, and it appears that two guns can be carried, similar to Contra III: The Alien Wars and Contra 4.
0:09: R shoulder button on Wii Classic Controller keeps Bill in fixed position to fire while X allows for switching between weaponry.
0:11: First life lost. There’s an abundance of sprites and particles filling the screen in this 2D game that clearly takes its inspiration from the SNES Contra III. The game even runs in a 4:3 aspect ration, so black bars hug both sides of the screen.
0:13: Venturing through an alien hangar where a gigantic centipede, most likely the boss of the level, appears from various windows weaving through space.
0:15: Yuck. The centipede-type adversary shot some offspring into one of the windows. The eyeball mess was easily handled with my spreadshot and now I’m free-falling Tom Petty-style on some scrapmetal from the busted ship.
0:16: Here comes the centipede with disgustingly large pinchers. This is going to be a downward-scrolling boss battle, at least the first part.
0:18: Dead. Game Over. Oh, continues. Yes, please. I need to figure out the boss pattern so I can make alien soup out of this overly grown extraterrestrial insect.
0:19: The continue starts me off at a checkpoint in the first level. I don’t remember Contra games having checkpoints, though I lost my weapons.
0:21: By the way, the first level features more remixed music from the franchise. It’s better and more retro than the title screen’s beeps and boops.
0:28: First boss terminated. Another cut screen says that the ship was actually transporting me, not an alien hangar as I remarked earlier.
0:30: Second level begins with city landscape and citizens screaming for their lives from some sort of black-and-blue robotic monster.
0:32: Fantastic homage to franchise. It appears that dogs are eating out of the trashcan, and before in earlier Contra entries, they would run after you after you passed them. Here, the creatures are some kind of flying monster.
0:35: There’s plenty more references to past games, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise for everyone.
0:37: This is definitely Contra in regards to difficulty. Dying numerous times, but it seems as if there’s unlimited continues.
0:40: Now playing the way Contra is meant to be played. My friend, Lucas, is joining the fray to stop this invasion.
0:41: Lucas dies immediately during first level while warming up to the title. I laugh hysterically, and thus lose concentration and die by a bullet. This is why co-op rules.
0:43: It takes a few minutes to get back into the groove of a Contra game, especially playing with another person.
0:46: We easily dismantle that eyeball offspring together. We both nuked it with spreadshot, and now onto the boss once more.
0:48: Lucas dies, but luckily I remain to pump the wiggly creature full of futuristic weaponry. I did have practice, after all.
0:55: Playing alongside someone really ups the fun factor tremendously with Contra Rebirth. Also, the checkpoints seem to really pull back on the difficulty dial quite a bit. Don’t know how I feel about it yet.
1:00: We’re running off to Stage 3.